ONE WAY Recommends [Issue
#18] Nellie McKay By
Pretty Little Head
Want to hear
something different in a singer-songwriter? Take a listen, to Nellie McKay.
Her second album eludes the sophomore jinx. In fact, for a late entry in 2005,
it’s an early entry for standout album of 2006. McKay draws upon musical
styles ranging from show tunes to ‘60s girl groups to bossa nova rhythms.
She sets herself tricky tasks - the song “There You Are In Me” is
virtually a patter song (you know, sung fast like Gilbert and Sullivan), but
she pulls it off. Her voice has the wispy quality of a fairy princess, but the
delivery of a carefully aimed arrow. Add to that her verbally adroit, often
topical lyrics and you’ve got Dave Frischberg and Blossom Dearie rolled
into one. Tracks like “Cupcake” (a gay/lesbian pro-marriage anthem) and
“The Big One” (about urban living) deserve to be hits - if only
they could, in this quality-bereft commercial music scene. One hopes that a
little vocal help from k.d. lang and Cyndi Lauper (on the lively “Bee
Charmer”) can make this album more visible. No matter; Nellie McKay is
on the case. You’ll continue to hear from her.